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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Melody flows from Dvorak's pen like water from a tap., Oct. 29 2002
By 
Bob Zeidler (Charlton, MA United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
...
I don't know that there's ever been a more melodic composer than Dvorak. Some might opt for Tchaikovsky, but I would differ with them. Even Dvorak's early symphonies - long unknown to concert-goers and record-collectors - have the gift of spontaneous melody, if not the perfection of craft that his later works in the genre did. And his overtures and orchestral scherzi matched the symphonies in melodiousness: the "In Nature's Realm" Overture is downright irresistable in this respect.
This boxed set of the works, remastered for CD, is a splendid bargain. The remastered sound need take second place to any other integral set of the Dvorak symphonies...And of course the full magic of Kertész's performances is there for all to enjoy without concern for "settling for second best" in any respect.
But I have a few gripes about how Decca has gone about this CD release. The set of symphonies and overtures comes in two 4-CD jewel boxes inside a slipcase. But there are only 7 CDs, the penny-pinching for which leads to awkward sidebreaks for a few of the symphonies. And the "Hussite Overture" - one of the very best in the set, and one of the very best performances of the work anywhere - is nowhere to be found.
How much better it would have been had Decca seen fit to include that 8th CD, with the "Hussite Overture" and with the very real expectation that the regrettable sidebreaks would not have occurred! This is reason enough for me to give this release only 4 stars. And it is a shame because it needn't have been that way!
There is every appearance that Ivan Fischer (interestingly, another Hungarian and not a Czech) is in the process of doing his own (and very new) traversal of these works, with the Budapest Festival Orchestra and on the Philips label. The little I've heard has me very excited. But Fischer does not "put Kertész in the shade." And the price is considerably higher.
Aside from the aforementioned nits about saving a disc and its side effects, I doubt very much that you'd be disappointed in this bargain boxed set.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A dionisiac journey and a directorial triumph, May 12 2004
By 
Hiram Gomez Pardo (Valencia, Venezuela) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
It will never be enough to remark the great loss for the musical world the early death of this outstanding conductor.
Kertesz was the young promise of the conducting craft at tle level of the greatest names . When Frucsay died in 1962, Kertesz became in the great young promise.
in fact, he owned that we can call a sense of span in music. He possesed that weird ability of make the notes float, so important in the organical flow of the music, he was a truly master in underlying these secret accents that the score hide in its own, the use of rubato never was overdone.
His charisma was evident and with the sublime exception of these two giants of the conducting in that moment (seventies) Carlo Maria Giulini, Sandor Vegh, Leonard Bernstein and Jasha Horenstein, there was no one more close to this elite than Kertesz was.
His reading in all the Dvorak's symphonic works are of first rate.
Just behind Kertesz, you may think in Kubelik, with a more romantic approach perhaps, but filled with a true conviction and sincere honesty.
Don't let the opportunity for acquire this set.
One of the London eternal treasures.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful traversal of the Dvorak Symphonies, April 4 2004
By 
Prescott Cunningham Moore (San Francisco, California) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Kertesz was the one of the greatest conductors of Antonin Dvorak. His traversal here with the London Symphony Orchestra remained one of the few complete cycles of the symphonies for nearly two decades. Although some more recent cycles have been popping up (Jarvi's cycle with the Scottish National Orchestra is a prime example), this set still holds up as one of the definitive cycles of these great works.
Kertez was a true musical genius. His ability to learn and absorb scores so quickly and efficiently was quite unusual, even for conductors. This ability, coupled with his unique conducting practices, brought great color to these symphonies. Never a fan of rehearsals, Kertez never over-rehearsed any music he recorded. Rather, he liked to keep the players on their toes, if you will, keeping a level of spontaneity and energy rarely matched by other conductors. Furthermore, the London Symphony was not very familiar with Dvorak (unfortunately, orchestra's are still not familiar with the earlier symphonies), and the "newness' of the works only ads to the spontaneous, rustic sound created by the orchestra. And what a sound! The brass, especially the trombones, executes their parts powerfully and majestically. The woodwinds play with a level of sublimity rarely found in Dvorak. The stings create a wonderful rustic sound that suites Dvorak quite well. As a musician deeply routed in the folk tradition, this rustic quality only adds to that folk feel. All in all, the performances are, on a whole, so good, it seems odd that the orchestra was not familiar with the works. This is a great way to become familiar to the less popular, but by no means less delightful, early symphonies. Although the recordings are analog and there is a bit of an audible hiss in the background, the overall sound is very good, as to be expected from London Decca. And at a bargain price, this set just becomes more attractive. A fantastic addition to any CD collection.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fresh ears, April 16 2003
By 
P. SIMPSON "nucaleena" (North Yorkshire, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
I dont want or need to add anything about these performances, - other reviewers are spot on, - they are simply wonderful, life affirming, even. What i would like to comment on is the sound. This is a forty year old set, and had always sounded good. Recently, however, I upgraded from my beloved Castle Howard S3s and Nakamichi amp to Quad ESL63s with twin valve amps and new valve pre-amp. So, as you can imagine, I've been rummaging through my collection, hearing everything afresh. And the amazing discoveries? Several, but this is among the happiest. This forty year old sound is fresh as a daisy, - it has been superbly re-mastered from superb masters and sounds, well, superb. So dont just think you're getting one of the gramophone's most precious performances, you're also getting sound better than you could possibly have expected.
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5.0 out of 5 stars THE Dvorak symphony cycle, Feb. 19 2003
By 
Nathan (Chicago, IL) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Hours of enjoyment is brought to me by this wonderful, inexpensive set! Splendid Interpretations of sym. 6, 7, and 8 , and of course a wonderful 9th. The sound is excellent except for one little distortion of the brass at the beginning of the sixth, but that is nothing compared to the fine quality of, well...everything, the rest of the time! Highly Recommended!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fine Performances, Superb Value, Oct. 15 2002
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
It's, unfortunately, probably fair to describe the status of Dvorak's symphonies by saying that the musicologists like the seventh, classical audiences like the eighth, and more general audiences can recognize the slow movement of the New World (although they frequently think that it is a Negro spiritual). In fact, though, Dvorak ranks with Brahms and Tchaikovsky as one of the supreme masters of orchestral music in the late nineteenth century. This set, with all nine of the symphonies, three of Dvorak's overtures, and the Scherzo Capriccioso, makes an impressive case for Dvorak's orchestral music. While some may prefer other performances of individual pieces to those offered here, every performance is worthy of a five-star rating. There are absolutely no issues with the sound, although the recordings date from the 1960s and, perhaps, early 1970s (Istvan Kertesz drowned in 1973). The bargain price makes this set a superb value.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Still The One To Beat, June 7 2002
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
When Istvan Kertesz began these recording in the 1960's he was going into unknown territory. The last 3 symphonies were virtually the only ones played and recorded with nos. 5 and 6 occasionaly appearing. You would have been hard pressed to have any chance of hearing the first 4. With that in mind it is amazing how excellent these recordings are when you consider that both conductor and orchestra were probably playing two thirds of the works for the first time. Dvorak's spirited and at times touching melodies as well as his colorful orchestrations are fully captured by all involved. All are on equal footing and none are treated as lesser works which is quite right as none are. The vintage Decca/London recording can more than match and even surpass many modern ones. After 30 years Kertesz and the London Symphony still hold top honors in these works.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect recordings, June 20 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
Kertesz was the greatest conductor of Dvorak's works. Each symphony is filled with great emotion and pathos and excitement. Kertesz was able to achive this spontanious sound in several ways. First of all, he never over-rehearsed the orchestra, keeping the sound young and fresh. Secondly, he would come to rehearsals with the score completely memorised. And finally, he recorded the set with the London Symphony, an orchestra which did not know Dvorak's music well. These three elements contribute to th rustic beauty found in every one of the symphonies. The orchestra is also top notch. The brass, especially the trombones, are powerful and strong, adding great color. The woodwind players play their parts with such sublime grace that it is hard to imagine they were not familiar with the music. And even though this set was recorded almost 50 years ago, the "London" sound is clear and powerful - it almost sounds as if it was recorded yesterday. Kertesz does many great things with the orchestra that seem so clear, but very few other conductors have done the same. Dynamicly, Kertesz is a master. The orchestra can grow from pp to ff in seconds, creating huge sweeping waves of rich sound. As I said before, the brass is strong, as it should be in any work by Dvorak. And the strings have a full, but rustic sound to them, reminding us that Dvorak was originally a small town musican. Futhermore, because his music is so deeply rooted in the folk music tradition, it seems necessary to keep the orchestra sounding fresh and rustic. This is the perfect set, and for the price, I would buy it now before it goes out of print! -- Also, Kertesz's cycle of the Schubert symphonies with London are also perfect readings. --
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5.0 out of 5 stars An incredible bargain, Aug. 1 2000
By 
This review is from: The Symphonies (Audio CD)
It's hard to believe that Decca is reissuing this set at this price given the fact that it pretty much renders most of the more recent, full price recordings of Dvorak moot. This is simply a terrific cycle of the Dvorak symphonies!
Kertesz brings life and excitement to all these pieces. His touch works especially well in the first six symphonies, which are all sadly neglected in the concert hall. Rhythms are crisp and bracing. The orchestral sound pulses with life. The Amazon reviewer rightly notes that the playing isn't perfect, but there is so much vibrancy to the playing that the occasional crudeness is irrelevant.
This bargain is also an excellent introduction to the treasures that lie in Dvorak's early symphonies. Numbers one and two are certainly overlong, but you have to love the scherzo of the first. Three and four are considered Wagnerian by many critics, but both contain a wealth of gorgeous melody. (I especially like the opening of three and the soaring melody introduced a few minutes into the Finale of 4.) Five is a wonderfully bucolic piece (at least until the Finale), with another memorable scherzo. Six is very Brahmsian--with a wonderful opening movement rich with horns.
You may have recordings of the last three, but Kertesz need not bow before anyone in these pieces, so don't let duplication keep you from getting this. I noticed that DG has rereleased the wonderful Kubelik cycle, but it is more expensive. Get this one and hope that DG offers Kubelik on separate discs so that you can get his fabulous sixth.
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